Roto Riteup: September 15, 2016

Shout out to my pal Christian Stoinev for throwing out the first pitch at the Diamondbacks game in fashion. I’m starting a petition to have dogs on the mound for all pitchers starting in 2017.

On the agenda:
1. Fulmer will only make three more starts
2. Various News and Notes
3. Streaming Pitcher Options

Fulmer will only make three more starts
There isn’t a ton of major stand-alone news today, so we’ll use this space to focus on breakout rookie Michael Fulmer. The Tigers revealed yesterday that the 23-year-old will only make three more starts during the regular season, giving him additional rest between starts rather than skipping him entirely once or shutting him down early. What, exactly, that means for his schedule is unclear, and the Tigers need him as they claw for a wild card spot, but his workload was always likely to be limited some. Prior to this season, Fulmer had never thrown more than 125 innings (from 2012-2015: 108.1, 46, 98.2, 124.2), and he’s at 159 for 2016 so far. Add in another 19 or so across his final three starts, and that’s a big jump.

It’s not as if Fulmer’s really slowing down, though he had a bit of a bumpy three-start stretch recently. He’s the owner of a 2.76 ERA, and while there’s a 3.81 FIP and 3.90 xFIP behind it, he’s been stingy with the walks, kept the ball on the ground, and missed a fair amount of bats. He’s also probably winning Rookie of the Year and has been the 20th most valuable fantasy starter. It’ll be tough for the Tigers not to use them if they wind up in the postseason.

Various News and Notes
I wonder if you polled the Cubs clubhouse and only let them pick one player, who would win MVP from just that room. Kris Bryant is the right call, for my money, but Anthony Rizzo homered twice again yesterday, giving him a tidy .290-31-101 line with a few weeks still left to go. Bryant, of course, has a .296-37-95, so maybe it wouldn’t be that close.

Oh hey, Brian Dozier homered again. Give him 41, two shy of Davey Johnson for the second-base record and making him the first Twins player to reach that level since Harmon Killebrew. He refuses to slow down, already smacking nine in the month of September. It’s not even halfway done.

Josh Donaldson is once again hoping to play Thursday after sitting out a third consecutive game with a sore hip. Results of an MRI haven’t been released yet, and apparently lower-body injuries are at the root of some of Donaldson’s struggles, including his current 0-for-23 streak. The Jays, who have hit “rock bottom” by their manager’s estimate, could really use the reigning MVP and his 153 wRC+ back in the lineup.

Another MVP candidate could be on the shelf, as Jose Altuve and teammate Alex Bregman both left Wednesday’s game injured. Altuve is dealing with a sore oblique, while Bregman experienced discomfort in his hamstring. Keep an eye on their status heading into the weekend.

The Marlins could begin starting Giancarlo Stanton by Friday, which is fun news. Since returning from a groin injury way ahead of schedule on Sept. 6, Stanton has made five pinch-hit appearances with one hit and one RBI. The Marlins, four games back of the wild card, could surely use the boost, and this will allow you to get Stanton back in your lineup, too.

Tyler Skaggs is set for an MRI due to forearm tightness. The Angels scratched him from his start yesterday and have to be concerned, considering Skaggs just underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014. He only just got back, really, posting a 4.13 ERA over nine starts this season after returning in late July. Hope for the best for the 25-year-old.

The Yankees are reportedly signing Billy Butler. Cool.

I’m Big Pagan Pump, holler if you hear me.

Streaming Pitcher Options
If you enjoy streaming pitchers or play DFS, tune into the Roto Riteup for recommendations each and every day.

A pitcher for today: Mike Montgomery vs. Mil (Jimmy Nelson)
I’ll continue to ride the late-season Mike Montgomery train at a discount while some are slow to buy into him as a starting option. Even stripping his strong relief stint out of the equation, Montgomery’s fashioned a 3.64 ERA over six starts, striking out 21.8 percent of batters. The walks are a little high and he’s had some good fortune in those outings, but he’s also yet to really turn in a bad start. Here, he draws the Brewers, who strike out more than any other team in baseball and own a bottom-five offense over the last month (and bottom seven on the year).

A pitcher for tomorrow: Luke Weaver @ SF (Matt Moore)
On a pretty bad day for streaming, we’re taking a roll of the dice with 23-year-old rookie Luke Weaver. The Cardinals righty has just six starts to his name – and just seven above Double-A – but teams are yet to figure him out, striking out 30.2 percent of the time. That rate probably won’t keep up given the rate of missed bats and minor-league profile, but Weaver’s also done well to avoid walks, and his home-run issue at the major league level isn’t the norm for him. The Giants, meanwhile, have stumbled to a 94 wRC+ over the last month and sit at 98 on the season, hardly the threat their record would make it seem.

Blake Murphy is a freelance sportswriter based out of Toronto. Formerly of the Score, he's the managing editor at Raptors Republic and frequently pops up at Sportsnet, Vice, and around here. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.

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